The achievements of WP3

EURHISFIRM Work Package 3.1 – Intellectual Property Related Issues

Progress as of 15./16. March 2019 – EURHISFIRM Meeting Wroclaw

The task of WP 3.1 is to identify relevant ownership and property rights in the context of the database project. This firstly includes an examination of potential rights persisting in the source materials which are to be used for the creation of the EURHISFIRM database. Secondly WP 3.1 will take a look at ownership rights in regard to the research outcome, i.e. mainly ownership and property rights in the final EURHISFIRM database. In terms of relevant legal areas unfair competition law might be of relevance, besides the obviously important intellectual property law. The objective of WP 3.1 is to propose policies for the handling of the identified issues to ensure compliance with the relevant legal rules.

The main challenges for WP 3.1 are the great variety of sources that might be used for the creation of the database and the fact that the project covers seven different countries and thus seven different jurisdictions. The variety of sources is challenging because a number of different intellectual property rights have to be considered. This is exacerbated by the diversity of the sources and their potential uses. Besides the copyright directives of the European Union the seven countries do not have any relevant common statutes. It is therefore challenging to rely on regulation for the identification and examination of potential issues with ownership and property rights.

To this point a preliminary flowchart for issues with intellectual property rights has been produced:

While no flowchart can provide an in-depth legal analysis, the presented preliminary chart may serve as a first look at potential policies for the processing of the source materials, i.e. of a corpus of materials. A more detailed analysis of the respective legal issues which are only indicated (if at all) in the flowchart will be provided in the final WP 3.1 report.

Furthermore a legal expertise in respect to the utilization of the “Handbuch der deutschen Aktiengesellschaften” in the German copyright context has been produced. This is of particular value since this handbook is one of the key sources for data on German stock corporations.

Apart from that relevant intellectual property rights have been preliminary identified. The most important ones are copyrights in literary works, database works and the sui generis rights of makers of databases. The subject matter of those rights are texts and the presentation of graphical illustration (literary works) and databases in the sense of the Database Directive[1]. In particular company yearbooks or stock exchange lists might be subject to a copyright or related rights protection.

In addition some national rights have been identified that also might be of relevance in the EURHISFIRM context, namely related rights in photographs and similarly manufactured products under German and copyrights in typographical arrangements under British copyright law.

The relevant act in respect to intellectual property law is the digitization of the source materials. In this process the source materials are inevitably reproduced (even if it is just for a brief moment in a computer RAM). Copyrights and related rights do however grant their holders the exclusive right to reproduce the protected subject matter. Besides the reproduction the right holders also have the exclusive right to make the protected subject matter available to the public. Thus generally a license of the right holder is necessary to process the data or to include protected subject matter in the final database.

It is key not only to identify the relevant copyrights and related rights that protect the source materials but also to take a look at whether or not some of the potential utilizations in the EURHISFIRM context fall into the scope of exceptions or limitations to copyright. If they would, a license would not be necessary. While there is barely any harmonization in this respect the new Digital Single Market Directive[2] (which is yet to be implemented in the national copyright laws) might be of interest in the context of the project, since it provides exceptions for text and data mining for scientific research.

In terms of unfair competition law the question is whether the digitization and further use of existing publications (which serve as source materials for the creation of the database) constitute an act of unfair competition vis-à-vis other publishers who already market the same or similar content. Due to basically no relevant harmonization in the field of unfair competition law on the EU level the examination of unfair competition issues is even more challenging than that of the IP related issues.

Nonetheless a solid groundwork for WP 3.1 has been established and can serve as the foundation for the final report. This report will identify and examine potential issues with ownership or property rights in depth and lay out policies to deal with them.

[1] Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal Protection of Databases, OJ L 77/20, 27.3.1996.

[2] Directive (EU) 2019/790 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on Copyright and related Rights in the digital single Market and amending Directives 96/9/EC and 2001/29/EC, OJ L 130/92, 17.5.2019.

The achievements of WP4

The University of Antwerp is responsible for Work Package 4 which builds up expertise regarding existing datasets and historical printed serial sources on publicly traded companies from 1815 and on data documentation standards.

 WP 4 compiled an inventory (D4.2) of the principal official publications of company information, stock exchange price lists and yearbooks with summary governance and financial information on publicly traded companies for each of the participating countries, as well as existing datasets for financial history. The inventory also provides a summary description of their contents. Another report on data and sources semantics (D4.3) contextualises the categories of information commonly found in stock exchange yearbooks and price lists. It does so by providing clear definitions and a detailed, historical overview of legislation, regulation and customs in the fields of company identification, corporate governance, securities trading and financial reporting. The output of WP 4 also includes two reports on metadata standards (D4.1 and D4.5). Metadata is defined by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) as “data that defines and describes other data” or, simply, “data about data”. The metadata standards from the Data Documentation Alliance (DDI) will be used in EURHISFIRM for describing the provenance, characteristics, structure and contents of datasets and printed sources in a structured and uniform manner. A selection of stock exchange price lists and yearbooks were documented according to the DDI standards with the Colectica software (D4.4). Other Work Packages will draw on this output for the elaboration of a common metadata model (Work Package 5), data connecting and matching technologies (Work Package 6) and a system for automated data extraction (Work Package 7).

A New Data Hub For Financial Research: DFIH (Data for Financial History)

On Thursday, 13 December 2018, the research group DFIH (Data for Financial history) at the Ecole d’Economie de Paris/Paris School of Economics will hold the conference A New Data Hub For Financial Research: DFIH (Data for Financial History). The group will present the projects and the current progress on building comprehensive databases on historical French securities traded in the French markets since 1796. The projects aim to improve the current lack of empirical work in historical financial data that are crucial to better understand and find solutions to global financial crises as witnessed in the latest crash ten years ago.

 

The next day (Friday, 14 December 2018) follows-up with a separate but connected event, the 8th EURHISTOCK Workshop. As in Madrid (2009), Cambridge (2010), Paris (2011), Bonn (2012), Antwerp (2013), Cambridge (2015), Belfast (2016), the 8th edition of the EURHISTOCK workshop aims at providing a meeting point for financial and economic historians as well as financial economists interested in the long-term changes of European financial markets.
The workshop is jointly organized by the Paris School of Economics and the European Business School-Paris.

 

For registrations, please follow this link. For further information, please contact Monique-Alice Tixeront (monique-alice.tixeront@psemail.eu).

Motivation

The recent financial crisis led the world into what is now called the Great Recession, in reference to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Economic recovery is still nascent in some parts of Europe. Shortcomings in the working of capital markets undermined corporate investment and spread unemployment. Hence, they rose inequalities, harmed well-being of citizens, and built mistrust vis-àvis decision makers and scientists. These fallouts affected society’s innovation and openness. The European Commission has identified investment, growth, and creation of jobs as the key objectives of its agenda. To reach these objectives, it brings forward further policy initiatives such as the EU capital markets union to improve access to capital for businesses, especially SMEs.

The European Commission has identified sound scientific evidence as a key element of policy-making at all levels of the European process. Yet, the European huge research potential in social sciences has not been entirely realised due to a lack of empirical works. The weak empirical foundations of the analytical models used to analyse structural and cyclical changes has become obvious in the fierce debate among scholars following the financial crisis. One of the main reasons for this shortcoming is the scarcity of detailed historical high-quality firm level data for Europe available to test these models, which are crucial to understand the interactions between financial, economic, and social evolutions. This scarcity is particularly glaring at the European level: policy for the future must be aware of both the dynamics inherited from the past and the directions these dynamics are structuring the present.

The “Big data” revolution in historical social sciences will bring crucial progress in and fundamental revisions of current knowledge of the EU economy. The scaling-up in both variety and size of available historical high-quality economic and financial data for Europe has the potential for a major epistemological rupture. On the one hand, datasets are usually build to test models and bring answers to specific questions, but in the new paradigm trends and patterns in the data will emerge due to data mining techniques independently from preliminary research questions: History is a boundless natural laboratory for a host of economic and financial experiences. On the other hand, the building of historical “born-on-paper” big data – as opposite to “born-digital” data – represent a unique occasion to bring down barriers not only between social sciences but also between social and “hard sciences” in the context of interdisciplinary digital humanities.

USA has been investing enormous resources to build and link databases suited for research over the long run. The Collaborative for Historical Information and Analysis (CHIA) links academic and research institutions to sustain a Human System Data Resource, connecting variables to analyze many areas of human experience. The Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS) provides the user with one location to access over 250 terabytes of data across multiple disciplines including accounting, banking, economics, healthcare, insurance and marketing. The Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP), the most widely used database in finance, contains prices and dividends for shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 1926. A Google Scholar search on scientific papers that have used CRSP data returns nearly 46,000 hits including many papers by Nobel prizes. But the use of US data precludes any understanding of the features of the European economy. Because of the USA’s dominant position in data production, American companies are frequently and implicitly deemed “representative” or “the norm”. Lessons are consequently drawn from their behaviour that are supposed to be applicable everywhere, generating many biases.

Today, only a very few large stand-alone databases have been built so far on Europe by both academic community (e.g. the London Share Prices Database of the London Business School) and private companies (e.g. the US Datastream), without any concern for interoperability. Within the academia, considerable resources have been devoted to data building, very often with the aim to study very specific issues. Such datasets are without any systematic comparative or diachronic analytic purpose and have no concept for cumulativity or sustainability. Hence, it is nearly impossible to compare the existing fragmented datasets. Moreover, a continuing access is not guaranteed, the data dissemination being often left at discretion of these individuals. Consequently, with no permanent infrastructure that cares about harmonization and access, these data are in most of the cases lost to the community.

On the other hand, the very few historical series that are contained in some commercial databases are sometimes unsuitable for research, but daily used by business and academia. They can give rise to serious errors, because they are poorly documented and flawed because based on easy-to-find but inappropriate sources. The building of such data requires sharp interdisciplinary skills, some of which are specific to a country, or even to a region, because of the heterogeneity of historical business rules and practises. These peculiarities call for an ad hoc Research Infrastructure (RI) able to connect to other already existing ones.